Original Research

The prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness amongst learners at the Akropong School for the Blind in Ghana

Michael A. Kwarteng, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Kovin S. Naidoo, Samuel B. Boadi-Kusi, Pirindhavellie Govender-Poonsamy
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 80, No 1 | a611 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v80i1.611 | © 2021 Michael A. Kwarteng, Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Kovin S. Naidoo, Samuel B. Boadi-Kusi, Pirindhavellie Govender-Poonsamy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2020 | Published: 22 April 2021

About the author(s)

Michael A. Kwarteng, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Bindura University of Science Education, Bindura, Zimbabwe; and, Discipline of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Discipline of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Kovin S. Naidoo, Discipline of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Samuel B. Boadi-Kusi, Department of Optometry and Vision Science, School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
Pirindhavellie Govender-Poonsamy, Discipline of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Low vision and blindness have significant implications, resulting in a generally reduced quality of life amongst the sufferers.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness amongst learners at the Akropong School for the Blind.

Setting: The study was conducted in Akropong School for the Blind, Ghana.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used. Eye examinations included measurements of presenting distance visual acuity (PDVA) with the Tumbling ‘E’ distance LogMAR chart. Anterior and posterior segments were examined with an ophthalmoscope and a slit lamp.

Results: Two hundred and sixty-eight (N = 268) learners comprising 157 (58.6%) males and 111 (41.4%) females took part in this study and their ages ranged from 4 to 43 years (mean and standard deviation [SD] = 15.79 ± 6.15 years). The results indicated that 76.1% were classified as blind and 23.9% of the learners had low vision. The leading cause of low vision was glaucoma (39.1%) followed by pseudophakia (21.9%) and retinopathy (18.8%). The most common causes of low vision and blindness based on pathology found on ocular anatomical structures were corneal opacity/phthisis bulbi (35.5%), followed by glaucoma (25%), cataract (13.4%) and retinopathy (10.8%).

Conclusion: The leading causes of low vision and blindness identified in this study were because of avoidable diseases such as corneal opacity/phthisis bulbi and glaucoma. This highlighted the need for adequate primary eye care services, equitable eye health workforce distribution and eye health awareness in Ghana to help prevent low vision and blindness.


Keywords

prevalence; low vision; blindness; Ghana; School for the Blind

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